This feedback forum is designed to give readers a way to voice criticisms and compliments or ask questions about The Californian’s news coverage. Your questions — which may be edited for space — are answered here each Saturday by The Californian’s Robert Price.
Reader: Thanks for highlighting some great ideas for leveraging Mr. Elf on the Shelf — or PicoSky as he’s named in our house — both during and beyond the holidays ("Help the Elf with creative printouts," Dec. 8). We’ve certainly gotten great traction in achieving good behavior by his presence.
But I must say, most kids can read fairly well before they cease to believe in things like the Elf. While my kids, like most, don’t open up TBC and dig in ... they will take a double glimpse when their favorite Christmas character graces your cover page. My wife and I found ourselves explaining what is meant by “ideas for creating Elf on a Shelf scenes.” While it is certainly a relatable feel-good topic, and very popular, perhaps you can keep us parents’ strategic trickery off the cover and out of easy eyesight.
Your loyal reader,
— Eric Stanley
Price: I don't know whether to be concerned about spoiling your children's Christmas experience or elated because people of (presumably) elementary-school age are occasionally glancing in the general direction of a daily newspaper. I guess both.
So, what to do? Tiptoe around certain hard truths in order to preserve their rosy-cheeked reverence for Santa and friends, or serve the holiday-season interests of parents like you who want to protect that innocence? Alas, we must default to the latter, because they're the ones doing most of the reading (and paying for the subscriptions). But I will pass along your concerns to Eye Street editor Stefani Dias, who's in charge of our elf and reindeer coverage.
Reader: Your paper in my opinion is pure propaganda! You sir in my opinion are a fascist, socialist, lying newspaper. I always thought that The Californian was a down home newspaper, but now after all these years I have found that you are not much better than the National Enquirer! Trump was voted in! Get over it!
You and yours should be ashamed of yourselves! No honest journalism in your paper! I don't expect you to print this, you'd be a fool if you did. Wait, you are a fool!
— Jord O. Nelson
Price: Excellent rant. Forgive me for trimming it from its original 1,000 words to these few. But it was a bit repetitive. I counted the word "lie" or "lying" ("lieing," actually) six times. One would think with that expenditure of energy you'd have managed to come up with one concrete example of the fascist/socialist nature of this newspaper. One would be mistaken.
By the way, the National Enquirer, the standard by which you apparently judge journalistic malfeasance, endorsed Trump — one of just four U.S. periodicals (as best as I can tell) that did so. For what that's worth.
Reader: I've read your column for some time and have noticed both liberals and conservatives claiming to have a monopoly on intelligence, ethics, and morality. Fine. How about giving each side a chance to prove it?
Throughout the holiday season you could keep track of how many letters from each group actually show these qualities on the following basis:
Intelligent people can make a point without resorting to insults or expletives. Ethical people do not rely on half-truths or make unsubstantiated claims.
As for morality, none of us are perfect so I hesitate to set a standard there. But there is a great deal of truth in what first-graders like to tell each other: "Twinkle twinkle little star, What you say is what you are." That might help.
At the end of the year you could publish the results. Yes, I'm sure whichever side "lost" would accuse you of bias in favor of the other, but doesn't that happen anyway?
Just a suggestion.
— Fran O'Brien
Price: I appreciate the sentiment, but that falls into the "one more thing for me to do" category, and the result would be exactly as you predict. But I agree, it would be fun.
Reader: My first perception of your Dec. 2 Sound Off response to the reader who was finding it "hard to keep track of all the prominent sexual harassers ..." was that you responded in corporate-speak [here you drop your chin and speak in a deep, serious voice] "assuming these allegations are true - and Keillor has not denied them - he has no place in these pages." And then you added [in your own voice we have come to love in this column]: "A shame."
What is "a shame"? Could it be that America has a "prominent sexual harasser" in the White House because half the voters didn't believe his 22 accusers? Could it be that Americans only believe some of the women — but not all — along political lines?
I agree that it is a shame to lose the folksy yet erudite voice of Garrison Keillor. I also agree that it is a shame that men in positions of power have so long used women and treated them as they would not want their mothers or daughters treated.
— Ann Gallon
Price: The "shame" I referred to was, of course, the loss of that talented writer, Mr. Keillor. But it is also a shame that so many Republicans enjoy pointing at accused harassers like Al Franken and so many Democrats enjoy pointing at accused harassers like Roy Moore. It's a shame so many check the political designation before passing judgment.
Reader: I’m no grammar curmudgeon, but every time I hear Trump say he feels “badly” I cringe. Although, perhaps, since he appears to be devoid of empathy he does feel just as badly as he does everything else.
Heavy, exhausted sigh ... and now not even Garrison Keillor for the occasional respite. Bummer.
— Pamela Wildermuth